There are few Birmingham drug arrests that are the result of an extensive investigation or sting operation.
More often than not, Birmingham criminal defense attorneys know, drug arrests are the result of some other offense. Sometimes, it’s a traffic stop. In other cases, it’s a report of a suspicious person.
In this case, it was a report of a domestic dispute that led Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies to a home on Park Terrace, where they ended up seizing nearly 20 bags of mariuana, a scale, nine firearms, including two assault weapons and one that had allegedly been stolen.
According to The Birmingham News, police responded to the home after one of the men called to report that his brother had attacked him and that a gun was involved. He told dispatchers that his brother had knocked him down to the ground, put a gun to the back of his head and threatened to end his life.
The brother who was not armed attempted to get up and get away, but he reported that the other man grabbed him and choked him. The alleged victim reportedly fought back and was eventually able to get away and dial 911.
The dispute was over by the time law enforcement arrived.
Officers did conduct a search of the residence, which is when they discovered the drugs, paraphernalia and firearms.
The brother accused of being the aggressor has been charged with third-degree domestic violence, unlawful possession of marijuana, first-degree receiving stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia. It’s possible that other charges may be filed too, but for now, his bond has been set at $9,000.
What may end up being a key issue in this case is whether officers properly conducted the search of the home. If they did not follow the exact letter of the law, defense attorneys can file a motion to suppress that could result in the majority of those charges being dropped.
If officers did not properly follow search procedure, then any evidence collected in the course of that search would be considered inadmissible. Without the physical evidence of the guns, the drugs and the paraphernalia, there is little chance those charges would be provable.
It’s the same type of principle in a traffic stop. If the officer had no legitimate reason to stop a vehicle or search it to begin with, the evidence found during the course of that search may not be used in the case against the defendant.
This is typically a more valid argument in cases where the drug arrest happens subsequent to some other offense. This is because when police agencies conduct longer investigations or sting operations, they can carefully plan each move they make.
It’s not that way in a spontaneous arrest. Officers have to make on-the-spot decisions about how to conduct their investigation, how to collect evidence and what charges to file. The fact is, officers are human, and mistakes occur – and more frequently than you might think.